Osteoarthritis, or OA, affects almost 10 percent of the world’s population, and with obesity a worldwide epidemic too, there’s a lot of overlap.

Of course, carrying around extra weight puts additional strain on joints that are already sore and can actually make your condition worse over time. Again and again, scientific studies have shown this to be the case.

It’s not just a load-bearing problem, however. There’s also good evidence that fat tissue releases certain chemicals that increase inflammation in the body, and this also affects how severe your OA is.

Given all this, it only makes sense that weight loss will help offset some of the effects of osteoarthritis. In fact, one study showed that the effect of losing one pound will reduce the force on your knee joints by four times that amount.

Since even small amounts of weight loss can help offset OA, let’s talk about ways you can do that, even if you’re stiff and sore and exercise is difficult.

Small steps to better health

Pushing yourself to exercise hard even if you’re in pain can cause more damage to your joints, so you’ll want to start out easy.

Avoid activities that involve putting a lot of impact on your knees and hips. Walking is a good choice, and it can be a pleasant social experience instead of a chore if you find a walking buddy and take a stroll in a favorite location. Swimming is also a good form of exercise that improves muscle and cardio strength while putting very minimal strain on your joints.

Also check out chair exercises. If standing is painful, you can still do low-impact stretches and strengthening movements that will help you improve mobility without a lot of pain.

Think before you eat

It’s not necessary—or even advisable—to go on a strict diet to improve your osteoarthritis. Losing too much weight too quickly comes with its own set of potential issues.

Instead, start with small changes and be mindful of what you eat and when you eat it.

Try switching out one healthy food for an unhealthy one to start. This could be as simple as substituting water for sugary drinks, or going with whole grain bread and pasta instead of products made with refined flour. And don’t forget to flavor up healthier food choices with condiments that satisfy your cravings.

Don’t deny yourself your favorite foods, but do be aware that the quantity or timing of what you eat also affects weight. Cut back on your portions a bit and think about what you’re eating instead of being distracted by the TV—you’ll enjoy it more! And don’t eat right before bed.

Own it!

Since you know your own body best, along with your habits, cravings and physical limitations, think of ways you can increase your movement while moderating your food intake.

Speak with your doctor to verify that your strategy is sound and then take control of your path to weight loss. He or she may also recommend certain natural supplements that can help.

Set modest goals you know you can achieve and work up from there. Move more and make better eating choices. When you see the pounds starting to come off, you’ll be encouraged to keep going.

Remember, even a small amount of weight loss can have a big positive impact on your osteoarthritis!

Less pain and more mobility aren’t out of your reach. If you need help with physical therapy or are looking for an alternative to joint replacement surgery, contact Flexogenix today for a consultation.